Over 35 riders gathered this beautiful June morning at this summer’s starting city in Glenwood, Iowa’s downtown square to start the annual RAGBRAI Route Inspection Pre-Ride. This 420-mile fact finding mission will take place this week, ending at the Mississippi River in Muscatine on Saturday, June 11.
Along the way, the ride swelled as others joined in towns of Malvern, Tabor, Randolph and Imogene. Riders from the local RAGBRAI committees joined the pre-ride team over the many hills on Mills and Fremont Counties. The road are in pretty good shape (you’ll travel over concrete and backtop roads as well as gravel if you choice to tackle the gravel loop). The gravel loop will travel over some pristine Iowa gravel. It will not be maintained and the shape of the gravel might depend on the weather in the days prior to RAGBRAI. All registered riders that complete the gravel loop will receive a complimentary Gravel Loop Patch and small decal for your bike. These will be given out in Imogene at the end of the gravel as you enter Imogene.
The day’s ride is just under 50 miles and 2,614 feet of climb. Most of big climbs are traveling between Glenwood and Tabor, but their are good climbs throughout. Every time RAGBRAI crosses the Loess Hills, you know to expect some climbing. The nice part about these hills was that you could get pretty good momentum to help you up the next one. Not quite “rollers”, but a different type of hills than last year. We were fortunate today to have some cross and tailwinds to push us along.
The ride is packed with rural scenery. You can see that most of the corn and beans have been planted that will provide a very green backdrop for riders.
Here are some facts and points of interest from each town.
The 2015 Main Street Revitalization Project renewed Malvern’s historical buildings. Pay close attention to the revised storefronts and keep an eye out for bicycle artwork as you travel through the first pass-through town of the week.
If you’re ready for breakfast right away, Malvern’s got what you need. Food vendors include:
- Pancake breakfast by the fire department
- Multiple food vendors
- Moreau’s Backerei (German bakery) for your favorite baked goods
- Classic Café and C & M’s Café for breakfast burritos and other standard breakfast town fare
They will also have all sorts of entertainment for your enjoyment:
- Swamp Boys will be playing onstage
- Fairview Hills Golf Course (9 hole public golf course)
- Donkey Rescue – you’ll have to ask about this one!
- Drum line out of Omaha
- Dance troupe
Must-see points of historic interest include:
- Historical mural in Heritage Park – for a great photo op!
- Tolles Cabin, located 1.5 miles northwest of Malvern, became a regular stop on the Underground Railroad. A historic marker stands in Paddock Park in Malvern.
For more information on Malvern’s RAGBRAI plans, visit:
Tabor is known as “The Town You’ve Been Looking For,” and we think there couldn’t be a more appropriate motto for our first meeting town of the ride.
After we climbed along the Loess Hill National Byway into town, you may not be surprised to learn that the town was named after the Bible’s Mount Tabor. The Christian clergymen who named and founded the town also founded Tabor Literary Institute and Tabor College, which was open from 1857 to 1927. The campus was an innovator of its time, as they allowed and encouraged “both sexes and all classes” to attend.
Back to history in a minute – and Tabor does have some really interesting history. But we would be remiss if we didn’t mention all the food they will have ready to serve us – both breakfast and lunch items. They really will have a huge lineup of food. Most of which will be either in Tabor City Park or at local restaurants or groceries.
- Fremont Mills PTO will serve watermelon, hard boiled eggs, and pulled pork sandwiches.
- Fremont Mills Boosters are serving protein energy bites (these are SO good), pasta salad, breakfast burritos, frozen pickles and 1/3 lb burgers.
- Hometown Pride will be serving Maid Rite sandwiches, a Tabor Tradition! Proceeds will go to new street lights and a hiking/biking trail.
- Boy Scouts from Glenwood are serving homemade pie
- Tabor Grocery will serve smoked pork chops
- Yaya’s Scratch Kitchen will serve egg salad and chicken salad sandwiches with chips and a drink
- And Tabor Fire & Rescue will be hosting the beer garden. Proceeds from beer sales will go toward new equipment, including Lucas devices. Beverages will include beer, bloody mary’s and sangria.
Once you eat all that delicious food, you might want to stretch your legs a bit. Tabor has all sorts of fun and games lined up including:
- Fastest Man & Woman on a Bike Contest
- Strongest Man & Woman Contest
- Chicken Poop Bingo
- Soccer Shot
- Basketball Trick Shot
- Inflatable Jousting
- Kickball Hovering Derby
- Casting Tournament (fishing)
- Fireman’s Water Fights
There will also be live music all day including The Versatones, music by Josh Heard, and DJ Jamtime.
This mindset of equality positioned Tabor to become a major player in the anti-slavery movement. Tabor House was an Underground Railroad Station, and 23 conductors on the Underground Railroad are buried in Tabor Cemetery.
John Brown (yes, THAT John Brown) was a frequent visitor to Tabor and often rested and trained his troops on the square that is now the Tabor City Park. Tabor was the last stopping point for those settlers moving into Kansas, or fighting to keep Kansas a Free State during the Civil War. After a bloody raid into Kansas, John Brown fell out of favor with the peaceful residents of Tabor. So he returned to the town to ship the 200 Sharps rifles stored in the basement of the Historical Todd House to West Virginia and they were later used in his infamous raid on the Federal Arsenal at Harper’s Ferry.
You can still see many of these incredible historic buildings in Tabor today:
- The Todd House is one of the only four documented Underground Railroad Stations in Iowa.
- The Music Hall – One of the original Tabor College buildings is now Tabor Historical Society’s headquarters.
- Adams Hall – One the original Tabor College buildings is now apartments.
- Tabor Congregational Church – dedicated in 1875 was designed by Architect J.K. Nutting who also designed the famous “Little Brown Church”. On the National Register of Historic Places.
- Two Civil War Era brick homes built in the 1850’s still stand at the SE corner of the City Park and are currently private residences.
- Victorian Inn – Built in 1910 has rooms available for rent and the main floor is available for party rental.
- Hunter School House one-mile south of Tabor is also on the National Register of Historic Places.
Randolph residents welcome RAGBRAI Riders back to town as it has been 27 years since our last and only visit to the friendly community of just 168! … It’s time to “Rendezvous” in Randolph!
Rendezvous…according to Randolph’s definition, means:
Adjective: “A special meeting place to renew old friendships and meet new friends.” Randolph has worked together to make your stay enjoyable. Relax and enjoy adult refreshments in the beverage garden while listening to music provided by ‘Jam Time’ DJ and local acts; have lunch with your friends provided by our vast array of food vendors (including veteran RAGBRAI vendors Mr Pork Chop and Tender Tom’s Turkey and about 20 other local and popular vendors), indulge yourself with pie, chocolate chip cookies and frozen fruit bars or even shop for gifts and apparel. We have plenty of places for you to meet your friends!!
Verb: A “connecting point.” Remember that exciting game of twister that you played when you were 10, or that game of checkers you enjoyed when you were 20? Did you play Jenga or Kerplunk with your neighbors or Monopoly with your kids? Randolph wants you to be able to relive some of your fondest moments while here in Randolph and connect to the memories of yesteryear. Our life-size board games and oversized tricycles and obstacle course will be just a few items that will make you feel young again.
Neat places that riders should be sure to visit:
Veteran’s Memorial, Ferrel House (will not be open) , Depot & RR Museum (might not be open).
Type of entertainment planned:
DJ “JamTime” and local live talent.
Randolph Park Committee recently raised $30,000 for a new playground equipment for the 5-12 age group. We are now beginning fundraising efforts to purchase toddler equipment for the park also.
In addition, we are raising funds for a new fire truck as well as monies for the upkeep of our Veterans Memorial and Depot Museum.
Imogene is on the gravel loop between Randolph and Shenandoah – the town theme of ShamRock ‘n’ Ride builds off of the gravel loop combined with highlighting its Irish Heritage. There will be T-shirts, ladies tanks and cycling socks for sale with the town Gravel Loop logo on them. Look for your Official Gravel Loop Patch and Sticker on the way into town. The design of the patch ties in with Imogene being ‘Hub of the Universe’.
The food and drink options alone will make doing the Gravel Loop worth it. Options include:
- A beverage garden that will span the entire length of town!
- St Patrick Church (worth the trip up the big hill!) will serve sandwiches on bakery bread, pies and ice cream.
- Sons & Daughters of Imogene will have a baked potato bar
- Locally grown produce, pork chops and BLTs in the beverage garden.
- The Emerald Isle bar & grill will serve up their famous breaded pork tenderloins, gourmet pasta, smoked salmon, pesto and many other selections.
We had such a good time exploring Imogene on the Route Inspection, you’ll have even more to see and do. Here’s some of your options:
- An extra ‘challenge’ loop that will take riders up the hill past the ballfield and the church.
- A DJ will be on hand to play your favorites
- Recent inductee to America’s Old Time Country Music Hall of Fame George McGargill, known locally as the ‘singing farmer’ will be on hand.
- If we are lucky (playing off the Irish theme!), there will be a flyover dropping can cooler sleeves onto the crowd.
- Photo ops will be available at the church, downtown, and at the welcome sign on the south end of town.
- St Patrick himself and his leprechaun will be working the crowd.
- Work is underway to repair the old ‘North Bar’/South Bank – one of the two remaining original downtown buildings.
- Proceeds from the Church’s sales will go towards their kitchen remodel.
- A large portion of profit from the beverage garden will go to the Wabash Trace Nature Trail.
Other Items of Interest:
- St Patrick Catholic Church, current building constructed in 1915, is on the National Register of Historic Places. Look for the beautiful marble altar shipped over from Italy. Also home to one of the 8 ‘Holy Doors’ in the Des Moines Diocese. The church is currently undergoing a renovation project from their centennial campaign.
- ‘The Brooklyn Bridge’ – Old Bailey Bridge that extends across Hunter Branch on Brooklyn Drive will be the site of dying the creek green.
- Giant Shamrock in the middle of Railroad Street downtown – gets painted every St Patrick’s Week.
- Site of the Iowa Travel Guide cover shot & home of the cover models! Just north of the grain bins on the trail.
For more information on Imogene’s RAGBRAI plans, visit:
Shenandoah is READY for us! We had so much fun with their RAGBRAI Committee.
Shenandoah, the City with Energy is showing off its heritage as the Garden City with the 2016 RAGBRAI theme, “Flower Power!” Shenandoah was a seed & nursery town and is now the home of ethanol production. Flower Power not only reflects Shenandoah’s industry, but also harkens back to the year RAGBRAI began 1973. Peace, Love, Ride Shenandoah!
An aerial view of our route into town and to main camp grounds can be viewed on the Shenandoah RAGBRAI website. They filmed Terry Castle of RAGBRAI fame, riding the route with the KMA Radio drone and set it to the music of local singer George McGargill.
As riders enter Shenandoah on Sheridan Avenue from the west they will see a bicycle/flower arch. Greeters will be there to welcome them and pass out Flower Power packets of Zinnia seeds, a souvenir from Earl May Seed & Nursery Co. still headquartered in Shenandoah. We will be playing tunes popular from 1968-1974 and broadcasting them on a temporary FM station throughout the city. We will also make announcements on the station pertaining to riders and Shenandoah RAGBRAI volunteers.
Continuing east on Sheridan Avenue the first information center will be located in the parking lot of Iowa Western Community College Page Fremont Center. The information center will have details about activities and entertainment, where to eat, camping locations and directions to other housing. Also there will be some Flower Power photo opportunities with a hippie flair nearby thanks to the creative Shenandoah RAGBRAI Hospitality Committee and Pella Corporation. Shenandoah is home to the custom window division of Pella Corp.
Emergency medical services will be provided next to the information center at IWCC and at Shenandoah Medical Center near the main campgrounds at the south edge of town.
Straight ahead will be a beautiful downtown streetscape adorned with bright colored Zinnias, flower decorated bikes, hanging baskets and bicycle wheel flower power decorations on the light poles. Store windows will display the elementary artwork created for the RAGBRAI art contest, as well as some additional large flower posters. First up are the Everly Brothers Childhood Home, Shenandoah Historical Museum, the historic Depot Restaurant and Microbrewery, the main stage for entertainment and the beverage garden. All will be open and available to riders and visitors with plenty more photo ops, like a Volkswagen Bug with flowers spilling out of the trunk or cutouts of the Everly Brothers or the Beatles. Shenandoah will host the AA meetings in the Historical Society building.
The entertainment lineup will include music reminiscent of our theme and something for everyone. Acoustic guitar and original songs will be played by Eric Nelson beginning at 3 p.m., Matt Cox Band will follow. Blues will be played by Hamilton Loomis at 8 p.m. Secret Weapon will play 80’s hits. Our featured band will be “Peace, Love, Etc.” with new artist Joselyn playing 70’s hits and more beginning at 10:30 p.m. Entertainment will last until 12:00 a.m. There will also be an open microphone format for acoustic music at the Gazebo stage next to city hall. The stage will be available to local singers and musicians all day and into the evening. The area will also host bike shops and t-shirt vendors.
The food and vendor area will be located on Sheridan Avenue in the heart of downtown. The Iowa National Guard rock wall and obstacle course will also be located downtown. Several churches, the schools, restaurants and bars will be catering to riders with meals downtown and throughout the city. Venders should be ready to serve riders by 11 a.m. through the evening. Free water bottle fill up will be provided at the National Guard Armory on Ferguson Rd. next to Sportsman’s Park, downtown next the Everly Brother’s House, at the school campgrounds and in Gee and McComb Park.
Beverages will be served in the beverage garden area near the main stage just north of the Depot on Railroad Avenue. The entire vendor area extending to Blossom St. down Sheridan Avenue and Lowell Avenue will be an open container area adjacent to food vendors, downtown stores and porta potties. Beverages will be served from noon until 11:30 p.m. and cost $5 for 16 oz aluminum bottles and cans. Water and pop will be 2 for $5. Available beer choices will be: Michelob Ultra, Budweiser, Bud Light, Busch Light, Stella Artois, Goose Island IPA, Goose Island 312, Bud Light Lime, and multiple flavors of the BL ‘Ritas.
After lunch make your way to one of the 10 parks, two school grounds or individual houses hosting riders. You will find beautiful areas to camp and multiple recreational opportunities. Besides the parks, Shenandoah has many other recreation opportunities including the 18-hole American Legion Country Club, Wilson Aquatic Center, Sportsplex (with miniature golf, go carts, batting cages and more), Skateland skating rink, Little Waite Lanes 8-lane bowling alley, and Legacy 3 triple-screen movie theater. Compliments of the Iowa Army National Guard, there will be a rock climbing wall and inflatable obstacle course downtown for kids and adults alike. Downtown businesses also have much to offer, such as Serenity Studio & Spa’s yoga, massage, sauna, steam shower, soaking tubs, and gift shop.
The Shuttle will transport people to and from downtown, with stops located near each of the main campgrounds, the school, and both ends of downtown. Shuttle rides will be free thanks to our school and Southwest Iowa Transit Authority.
After a night of Peace and Love cyclists will be ready to ride in the morning. They can grab some breakfast from a vendor or restaurant and head out Center Street towards Essex and pass under the Flower Power arch with the banner sending them on their way…“Peace out, Ride on!”
Shenandoah will host an amazing entertainment lineup, including:
Eric Nelson – 3:00
Eric Nelson is a singer/songwriter/guitar player from Red Oak, Iowa who has written and performed music in the Midwest for the past ten years. Eric frequently plays bars, coffee houses, private parties and large outdoor venues. He has played and recorded with various artists over the years, and most recently regularly plays with the local band B Side 3.
The Smoking Brodies – 4:00
The Smoking Brodies are a Blues/Rock Band from Shenandoah with a sound all their own. Playing a great variety of originals and covers, they feature Kyle Cullin on Guitar & Vocals, Nick Isenhower on Bass & Vocals, Johnny Houser on Guitar, and Brian Keeling as Drummer.
Chad Elliott – 5:00
Like the dark earth of his Iowa origins, Chad Elliott’s life has served as fertile ground for music. Elliott has turned love, loss, fatherhood, divorce and homelessness into lyrics. He performs more than 200 shows each year. He has cultivated more than 1,000 songs in his career while also honing his skills as painter, sculptor and children’s book author/illustrator.
Elliott’s early career demonstrates a love of folk, roots and singer-songwriter music. He has worked with many greats and shared the stage with artists of the highest caliber, including Odetta, Tom Paxton, Loudon Wainwright III, R.L. Burnside, Greg Brown, Bo Ramsey, etc. Today, his songwriting has made a marked shift to Americana.
Matt Cox Band – 6:00
Since first picking up a 6-string at the ripe age of 14, Shenandoah, IA, native Matt Cox has gone on to produce an illustrious catalog of timeless songs, hymns full of lonely highways, distillery lunch breaks, longing and realization. Six-time Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards winner for Best Country/Americana (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014) and Best Blues (2009) speaks to the caliber of artist Matt Cox and his band have become in the studio and on stage. With a live show that showcases some of the best players in the region, and a raw energy that reveals the passion and experience that friends share with each other on stage and off.
Hamilton Loomis – 7:00
Born and raised in Galveston, Texas, Loomis is the son of musician parents who listened to blues, rock and soul. Music ran in his veins and, with instruments readily available around the house, he picked up drums, piano, guitar and harmonica, honing his multi-instrumental talent in addition to performing regularly as part of his family’s doo-wop group.
Loomis and crew shine on stage proving his music is best experienced in person, where one can see and hear its intended splendor. Described by Blues Blast Magazine as “a non-stop turbo of power, one minute moving from side to side of the stage, and then taking on his horn player in a head-cutting contest on the apron of the stage the next minute.” Loomis’ energetic, get-in-with–the-crowd antics are infectious. The swaying and clapping are just as he envisioned.
Secret Weapon – 8:45
The Ultimate in 80’s cover bands…This Omaha favorite has been rocking 80’s cover music for over 10 years. They were Winners of the Omaha Entertainment Awards’ “Best Cover Band” in 2009, 2010, 2012, 2014 & 2015!
And the headliner – Peace, Love, Etc. – 10:30
Peace, Love, Etc. plays an energetic, danceable mix of classic pop/rock music by the likes of The Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, Bonnie Raitt, Janis Joplin, Melissa Etheridge, Carole King, The Pretenders, Van Morrison, Santana, etc.. Eclectic but accessible; instantly familiar yet not overplayed, our diverse set-list brings smiling recognition to the audience, draws them into the music and onto the dance floor and never lets go.
For those familiar with the Omaha music scene over the last 25 years Peace, Love, Etc. brings members of April Monday, High Heel & The Sneekers, The River City All Stars, Knucklehead, The Mighty Jailbreakers, Living Proof, Acoustic Groove, Star 69, Desperate Bandwives, The Pounders & Soul Finger together for a high-energy, joyful jolt of live music.
Added bonus: Locals John Rogers (JR) and Dan Sullivan are band members.
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